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The Citi & American Express Hilton HHonors Credit Cards Review

Both AmEx and Citi offer a 40,000 points bonus on their Hilton credit cards.


Hilton hotels number over 4,000 and are located all over the world, making the chain a solid choice for the prolific traveler. The Hilton HHonors program comes in four credit cards, two with an annual fee and two without.

This article focuses on the two Hilton cards with no annual fee, the Citi Hilton HHonors card and the American Express Hilton HHonors card. Despite being free to hold on to, both of these cards come packed with value, making either a great choice for the non-committal. But which to pick? Here’s the scoop, one feature at a time.

Earning Points

The Citi HHonors card nabs you 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in first 4 months. You also get two HHonors points for every dollar spent, with 6x points at Hilton hotels, 3x points at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations.

The American Express HHonors card also has a 40,000 point sign up bonus, but you only need to spend $750 in the first three months. It also has a more generous rewards scheme: you get three HHonors points for every dollar spent, with 7x points at Hilton hotels, and 5x points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations.

As you can see, in the points category the AmEx HHonors card is the clear winner. Both cards offer a 40,000 point sign up bonus, but the AmEx card’s minimum spend is considerably lower. Plus, it offers more points earned for each spending category. The only reason to favor the Citi card is that you spend a lot at drugstores.

By the way, in order to get the hotel category bonus, you must, of course, be staying at a hotel that’s part of the Hilton HHonors portfolio. Just charge the room to your HHonors card and charge all hotel services to the room bill to receive the bonus. Simply using the card at the hotel is not enough.

Redeeming Points

You can redeem HHonors points for stays at select Hampton Inn & Suites, Embassy Suites, DoubleTree by Hilton, and Hilton Hotels & Resorts. An HHonor point is worth about half a cent. Now, your mileage may vary. The value depends on what category of hotel you will be redeeming at most and what time (peak or off-peak).

Redemptions start at 7,500 points for a standard room in a category 1 hotel, giving you a lovely 1.7 cents per point. But there seem to be only six (6!) category 1 hotels in the US. You can find them at Clarksville, AR; Cleburne, TX; Colombus, GA; Florence, AL; Jacksonville, FL; and Sandston, VA. So for most people, category 1 redemptions are not likely.

Then, for 10,000 points you can get a night at a category 2 hotel. Thankfully, there are 136 of those in the US. It’s 30,000 points per night for a category 4 and 50,000 points for a category 7. The middle range gets you about .4 to .5 cents per HHonors point.

One could also redeem points for merchandise or experiences, but these are lower value options. You can also purchase points directly from Hilton, up to a max of 40,000 per year. However, this is not recommended, since at the price of $10 for 1,000 points, you’re paying a 1.25 cents per point. Buy at least 10,000 at a time and you do receive a 25% discount, but this still doesn’t quite hold up to our point value estimate of half a cent.

There is no cap to how many points you can accumulate, and points don’t expire as long as you stay at a hotel, earn points, or purchase points at least once every 12 months.

Get Status

Both the Citi and AmEx HHonors cards automatically get you Silver Status, which includes benefits such as:

  • Book a reward stay of five nights and get the fifth night free. This applies only to standard rooms and kicks in automatically, you don’t have to do a thing. Needless to say, this perk is packed with value. Never has there been a better excuse for extending your vacation.
  • 15% bonus on HHonors Base Points earned on hotel stays. This doesn’t include the bonus points earned from the credit card, just the ones that any HHonors member would get.
  • Complimentary access to health club/fitness center

Additionally, both cards offer a way to “fast track” to Gold status. The Citi HHonors card will grant Gold status if you complete four stays at Hilton Worldwide Portfolio hotels within the first 90 days after opening your account. The American Express HHonors card will grant Gold status if you spend at least $20,000 per calendar year. When you do attain Gold status, it remains for the rest of that calendar year as well as the subsequent year. Gold benefits include free Internet access, room upgrades when available, 25% bonus on Base Points, and more.

American Express “AXON” Awards

The American Express HHonors card comes with a unique feature. It opens the door to what are called AXON awards, special redemption options available only to AmEx members. AXON awards are applicable to four-night stays in standard rooms and only in hotel categories 5 through 10. Here are the options, with the equivalent regular redemptions rates per night in parentheses:

  • Category 5: 130,000 (vs 30,000-40,000)
  • Category 6: 160,000 (vs 30,000-50,000)
  • Category 7: 190,000 (vs 30,000-60,000)
  • Category 8: 220,000 (vs 40,000-70,000)
  • Category 9: 260,000 (vs 50,000-80,000)
  • Category 10: 300,000 (vs 70,000-95,000)

Nice options, but AXON awards are not always the best choice. For example, four nights at the 30,000/night rate costs 12,000, which is less than the Category 5-7AXON prices. You also have to factor in the deal you get as a Silver member: stay five nights, get the fifth night free. AXON awards do not stack with that deal, you have to pick one or the other, and often the Silver deal is better.

To book an AXON award, you must call the line at 1-800-920-5649. They will ask for your Diamond number; just explain that you are an AmEx member calling for an AXON stay.

Traveler Benefits

The Citi HHonors card comes with Visa Signature benefits, while the AmEx HHonors card comes with American Express benefits. Both include car rental insurance, luggage insurance, roadside assistance, travel accident insurance, and 24/7 concierge-style customer service. Clearly such benefits are of great value to travelers.

On the other hand, both cards comes with a foreign transaction fee, which is a real bummer. The Citi card sports the usual 3%; the AmEx, 2.7%.

The Bottom Line

Getting an HHonors credit card is a no-brainer for any Hilton diehard. You get a tasty sign-up bonus and automatic Silver status, which includes a considerable discount built right in. Now, as for which no-annual-fee card to get, we think most people would want to get the American Express card, as it has a lower minimum spend for the bonus, better bonus categories, and extra award options. However, if you are planning to complete four Hilton stays in the first three months of card ownership, go for the Citi HHonors card to grab that Gold status.

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Chase Slate Balance Transfer Credit Card Review

The Chase Slate credit card is changing the game in its particular market niche. Those of you who carry a balance — and/or maybe think it’s about time to transfer that balance — will definitely want to get a load of this.

Typically, cards with a 0% introductory offer for balance transfers still charge a balance transfer fee of (usually) 3%. This tends to still be a favorable offer, but it leaves the consumer with some calculations to do. If your current credit card balance has an APR of 18%, say, then that means it takes about two months for the balance to accrue 3% interest. So the question becomes: is it worth it to pay two months of interest upfront in order to secure 0% for over a year? How quickly could you pay it off otherwise? Whip out the calculators and spreadsheets…

Oh wait, except with the Chase Slate, you don’t have to worry about any of that at all, because there is no balance transfer fee. None. And there is still an introductory 0% APR on all purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months.

Believe It, Transfer It

Sound too good to be true? It’s true-blue, in classic Chase style. Clearly, they know how to keep all levels of their cards competitive. There are some details to be aware of, though.

  • Balance transfers are free as long as you make them in the first 60 days. After that, it’s the usual 3%.
  • Remember that you can’t transfer balances between cards issued by the same bank. That means no transferring balances to the Slate from any other Chase card.
  • You can’t transfer balances that are higher than your credit limit.
  • And if you do accidentally go over your credit limit, or make a late payment, on ANY Chase account, you can kiss your introductory 0% APR goodbye, because you will be slapped with a 29.99% penalty APR. Yikes!

By the way, there’s also no annual fee, as to be expected. There is a foreign transaction fee, though. You can’t win them all.


There’s another reason that the Chase Slate is particularly suited to those who carry a balance. This card, along with a few other Chase cards, comes with a nifty tool called Blueprint that helps you track your expenses and set up payment plans. Directly from your browser, you can use create plans to pay certain purchases or categories of purchases off in full every month, set up payment plans for large purchases or even your whole balance, or simply track your spending. Your created payment plan then shows up on your statements alongside everything else.

Although… Let’s put our critical thinking caps on for a moment. Chase proudly advertises that with Blueprint’s Full Pay feature, you can “pay no interest on selected items,” …wow, pretty sweet!… “if you pay them off in full.” Wait, what? How is that any different from any credit purchase ever?

It’s not. Don’t be fooled — Blueprint does not give you any special interest rates on select items, or do anything really. It’s just a tool that you can use for your own planning. It does nothing that a calculator, spreadsheet, calendar, or notebook couldn’t do for you. Except it’s prettier and easier to use.

There is great value in obsessive budgeting! But our advice has been and continues to be that you should pay everything off as quickly as you can — it’s that simple. You don’t really have to break your balance down by categories; it doesn’t matter ‘which’ dollars you pay off. You have to pay the whole thing eventually anyways, and every dollar left unpaid will accumulate interest charges. The faster you pay, the less you pay.

Still, Blueprint is valuable for its psychological benefit. If you feel overwhelmed, it’s nice to have numbers broken down for you. A good mindset is a valuable intangible asset. Chase claims that customers who use Blueprint’s payment plan features tend to pay off their debts twice as fast. So clearly, it works for many people. Despite, you know, not actually doing anything. Hey, whatever lights a fire, right?


The Chase Slate comes with no rewards program. Boohoo. Don’t be surprised; that’s not what this card is about. It’s about becoming debt-free. Nobody who carries a balance should sign up for a rewards card, because rewards cards’ interest rates are much higher, certainly higher than the rewards.

But you do get $0 liability for fraudulent charges, as well as protection for your purchases against loss or damage for 60 days (up to $250).

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Chase Ink Cash Business Credit Card Review

The Chase Ink credit cards are our favorite pick for businesses, as all offer generous rewards for office supply and telecom expenses, two of the biggest cost categories for most businesses. The Chase Ink Cash card is the one for you if you’re looking for no annual fee, an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 6 months, and a lower minimum spend for the bonus. Also, get this card if you don’t mind a foreign transaction fee and are satisfied with redeeming rewards points for cash, and with a promotion bonus of $200 in cash points.

Just be aware that the points you earn on this card do not transfer to Chase Ultimate Rewards, unlike with the Ink Plus and Ink Bold cards. This is a major drawback for this card. Not only does the Ultimate Rewards portal open up new discount and bonus points opportunities, you can also transfer with frequent flyer partners for the ultimate in value.

Check out this guide to the details below, or see our comparison chart for Chase Ink cards.

 Money Math

  • APR: Intro 0% APR on purchases & balance transfers for 6 months (Lost w/ late payment), then var 13.24%
  • APR for Balance Transfers: same as above
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • APR for Cash Advance: var 19.24%
  • Cash Advance Fee: 5%
  • Late Fee/Returned Payment Fee: $15, $29, or $39 depending on balance
  • Over Credit Limit Fee: None
  • Penalty APR: var 29.99%, applies w/ late payment, returned payment, or exceeding credit limit on any Chase account/loan
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%



  • Bonus: $200 cash back after spending $3000 in first 3 months
  • 5% cash back for office supply stores, cell phones, landline, internet, & cable TV. (First $25,000 only)
  • 2% cash back for gas stations & restaurants. (First $25,000 only)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Cash Back Rewards Limit: No limit (except only first $25,000 in a year apply to bonus categories)
  • Cash Back Rewards Expiration: No expiration
  • Redeem For: Cash back
  • Cannot redeem through Ultimate Rewards program


  • Free custom email/text message reports on spending & spending reports organized by category
  • Employee Cards: No additional cost
  • $0 Fraud Liability Protection
  • Purchase Protection: Yes
  • Auto Rental Insurance: Yes
  • Travel Insurance: Yes
  • Extended Warranty: Yes
  • Customer Service: 24/7

Don’t forget to check out other credit card options at our list of the best business credit cards.